50 Salad Toppings to Keep Things Interesting

If you’re here looking for salad topping ideas, it’s probably because you want to get out of the boring salad rut. Salads don’t have to be a meal you dread but eat in the name of health. They can be nutrient-dense, fulfilling, and balanced. 

When putting together a salad, it’s important to keep in mind high calorie and low calorie salad toppings to balance your bowl. It can be easy to add hundreds of calories and many grams of sugar if you’re heavy-handed with dressings and nuts. But, if you can get the ratios right, salads are a flavorful and versatile meal, especially for volume eaters.

bowl of spinach and green salad with toppings

So, where to begin?

What to Put in Salad

veggies, fruit, grains, and fats for salad

Salad topping options are nearly endless, so I like to use this formula to create something I’ll enjoy each time:

  • Greens: 2-3 cups
  • Proteins: 4 ounces
  • Fruits and Veggies: ½ cup – 1 cup
  • Fats: ⅛ cup – ¼ cup 
  • Carbs: ¼ cup – ½ cup (optional)
  • Dressing: 2 tablespoons

In addition to thinking about the types of salad toppings, it’s also important to consider flavor and texture. I always like to have at least 1-2 crunchy ingredients, and mix up flavors with sweet, salty, spicy, and tangy additions.

Salad Topping Ideas

Proteins

smoked salmon, chicken, steak, and boiled eggs in glass bowls

A healthy serving of protein is essential for a filling salad. On busy weeks, I like to pick up a pre-made rotisserie chicken to top my salad or eat with veggies.

  • Chicken (4 oz.): 196 calories, 35 grams protein, 0 grams carbs, 5 grams fat
  • Tofu (4 oz.): 118 calories, 14 grams protein, 4 grams carbs, 6 grams fat
  • Steak (4 oz.): 231 calories, 35 grams protein, 0 grams carbs, 10 grams fat
  • Boiled egg: 68 calories, 5.5 grams protein, 0.5 grams carbs, 5 grams fat 
  • Shrimp (4 oz.): 135 calories, 26 grams protein, 2 grams carbs, 2 grams fat
  • Salmon (4 oz.): 234 calories, 25 grams protein, 0 grams carbs, 14 gram fat
  • Ground turkey (4 oz.): 242 calories, 31 grams protein, 0 grams carbs, 13 grams fat
  • Tuna (4 oz): 132 calories, 29 grams protein, 0 grams carbs, 1 gram fat

Vegetables

chopped veggies in glass bowls

You can’t go wrong by loading up your salad with veggies! Options like cucumbers and tomatoes add volume without many calories.

  • Asparagus (½ cup): 20 calories, 2 grams protein, 4 grams carbs, 0.2 grams fat
  • Bean sprouts (½ cup): 16 calories, 2 grams protein, 3 grams carbs, 0.1 grams fat
  • Beets (½ cup): 35 calories, 1 grams protein, 8 grams carbs, 0.1 grams fat
  • Brussel sprouts (½ cup): 40 calories, 3 grams protein, 8 grams carbs, 0.6 grams fat
  • Broccoli (½ cup): 27 calories, 2 grams protein, 6 grams carbs, 0.3 grams fat
  • Bell pepper (½ cup): 15 calories, 0.6 grams protein, 4 grams carbs, 0.1 grams fat
  • Corn (½ cup): 67 calories, 2 grams protein, 16 grams carbs, 0.6 grams fat
  • Cucumber (½ cup): 8 calories, 0.3 grams protein, 2 grams carbs, 0.1 grams fat
  • Edamame (½ cup): 94 calories, 9.2 grams protein, 7 grams carbs, 4 grams fat
  • Tomato (½ cup): 16 calories, 1 gram protein, 4 grams carbs, 0.2 grams fat
  • Carrot (½ cup): 23 calories, 0.5 grams protein, 5 grams carbs, 0.1 grams fat
  • Onion (¼ cup): 19 calories, 0.5 grams protein, 5 grams carbs, 0 grams fat
  • Zucchini (½ cup): 16 calories, 1 grams protein, 3 grams carbs, 0 grams fat
  • Butternut squash (½ cup): 41 calories, 1 gram protein, 11 grams carbs, 0.1 grams fat

Fruits

prepared fruit in glass bowls

Mix sweet and savory by adding fruit to your salad. Berries are quick and easy to throw in.

  • Dried cranberries (¼ cup): 123 calories, 0 grams protein, 33 grams carbs, 0.4 grams fat
  • Dried apricots (¼ cup): 78 calories, 1 gram protein, 20 grams carbs, 0.2 grams fat
  • Apples (½ cup): 33 calories, 0.2 grams protein, 9 grams carbs, 0.1 grams fat
  • Strawberries (½ cup): 24 calories, 0.5 grams protein, 6 grams carbs, 0.2 grams fat
  • Blueberries (½ cup): 42 calories, 0.5 grams protein, 11 grams carbs, 0.2 grams fat
  • Pear (½ cup): 90 calories, 0.6 grams protein, 24 grams carbs, 0.2 grams fat
  • Pomegranate (½ cup): 72 calories, 1.5 grams protein, 16 grams carbs, 1 gram fat
  • Mandarin oranges (½ cup): 36 calories, 1 gram protein, 9 grams carbs, 0 grams fat

Carbs

carb options for salad in glass bowls

Putting carbs in your salad is another great way to stay full for longer. Quinoa is my favorite because it adds a unique texture.

  • Black beans (¼ cup.): 60 calories, 4 grams protein, 11 grams carbs, 0.3 grams fat
  • Garbanzo beans (¼ cup): 53 calories, 3 grams protein, 9 grams carbs, 1 gram fat
  • Quinoa (¼ cup): 56 calories, 2 grams protein, 10 grams carbs, 1 gram fat
  • Sweet potato (½ cup): 80 calories, 2 grams protein, 18 grams carbs, 0.1 grams fat
  • Tortilla chips (¼ cup): 107 calories, 3 grams protein, 22 grams carbs, 1 gram fat
  • Couscous (¼ cup): 44 calories, 2 grams protein, 9 grams carbs, 0.1 grams fat
  • Rice (½ cup): 103 calories, 2 grams protein, 22 grams carbs, 0.2 grams fat

Fats

fat options for salad

Nuts, cheese, and seeds add creamy, salty richness that’s almost like the cherry on top.

  • Avocado (¼ cup): 45 calories, 1 gram protein, 3 grams carbs, 4 grams fat
  • Feta cheese (⅛ cup): 81 calories, 4 grams protein, 1 gram carbs, 7 grams fat
  • Cheddar cheese (¼ cup): 114 calories, 7 grams protein, 1 gram carbs, 9 grams fat
  • Parmesan cheese (¼ cup): 105 calories, 7 grams protein, 4 grams carbs, 7 grams fat
  • Walnuts (⅛ cup): 96 calories, 2 grams protein, 2 grams carbs, 9.5 grams fat
  • Almonds (⅛ cup): 96 calories, 2 grams protein, 2 grams carbs, 9.5 grams fat
  • Pistachios (⅛ cup): 88 calories, 3 grams protein, 4 grams carbs, 7 grams fat
  • Sunflower seeds (⅛ cup): 93 calories, 3 grams protein, 4 grams carbs, 8 grams fat
  • Pumpkin seeds (⅛ cup): 85 calories, 4 grams protein, 2 grams carbs, 7 grams fat

Herbs

herbs in glass bowls

Herbs add a burst of flavor and virtually no calories. Use green onions and cilantro to top a Chinese chicken salad or add basil to a caprese-inspired dish.

Salad Dressing Ideas

three salad dressings: honey mustard, balsamic and sesame

It’s easy to whip up a vinaigrette at home! Just use 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar. Here are a few of my favorite combos:

  • Honey mustard: 3 parts olive oil + 1 part dijon mustard + 1 part honey 
  • Balsamic: 3 parts olive oil + 1 part balsamic vinegar + salt + pepper
  • Sesame: 3 parts sesame oil + 1 part rice vinegar + 1 part soy sauce + salt + pepper

Or if you want to keep it really simple, you can drizzle a little olive oil, lemon or lime juice, and salt on your salad.

What are your favorite salad topping ideas and recipes?

salad bowl with toppings closeup
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5 from 2 votes

50 Salad Topping Ideas

Salads don't have to be boring! These salad topping ideas will give you endless ideas to spice up your meal.
Course Salad
Keyword salad, salad toppings
Prep Time 10 minutes

Ingredients

Protein

  • chicken
  • tofu
  • steak
  • boiled egg
  • shrimp
  • salmon
  • ground turkey
  • tuna

Vegetables

  • asparagus
  • bean sprouts
  • beets
  • brussel sprouts
  • broccoli
  • bell pepper
  • corn
  • cucumber
  • edamame
  • tomato
  • carrot
  • onion
  • zucchini
  • butternut squash

Fruits

  • dried cranberries
  • dried apricots
  • apples
  • strawberries
  • blueberries
  • pear
  • pomegranate
  • mandarin oranges

Carbs

  • black beans
  • garbanzo beans
  • quinoa
  • sweet potato
  • tortilla chips
  • couscous
  • rice

Fats

  • avocado
  • feta cheese
  • cheddar cheese
  • parmesan cheese
  • walnuts
  • almonds
  • pistachios
  • sunflower seeds
  • pumpkin seeds

Herbs

  • green onion
  • cilantro
  • basil
  • mint

Instructions

  • Choose the greens for your base. Don't be afraid to mix up different greens! Spinach, kale, romaine lettuce, spring mix, and arugula are a few options.
  • Add salad toppings, including protein, carbs, fats, and veggies or fruit. Make sure to mix and match flavors and textures.
  • Top with your favorite dressing and enjoy!